San Juan River

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San Juan River
San Juan River, Photo By Bud Logan

The San Juan River is a small stream with a big river fishery, flowing eastward on southern Vancouver Island, it empties into Port San Juan. This is a beautiful little river and Port San Juan is awesome with great beaches and lots of wildlife.

You can access the river from Highway 14 that goes to Port Renfrew or the Red Creek Main logging road. The river is best entered at the bridge on the Harris Creek Main logging road, from there you can drift down the river by boat or canoe with a take out at Fairy Lake.

The summer steelhead run is good during June and early July, with winter steelhead running from February to April. Large Coho are caught in early winter along with good Chinook runs in fall. Cutthroat trout are present year-round in the lower reaches of the San Juan River.

San Juan River
San Juan River, Photo By Bud Logan

The San Juan Salmon Enhancement Society is dedicated to preserving salmon runs. The San Juan Enhancement Society is a nonprofit society, set up in 1978. The Society has one full-time member and one part-time. Volunteer assistance is requested on an as-needed basis.

They collect the broodstock with the use of a fish trap and net at the entrance to Fairy Lake. The Hatchery takes 1,000 adult Chinook salmon, with 1/4 being female and 3/4 being male, from these they collect 1 million eggs. but they try to take no more than 50 percent of fish in the river, leaving the other half to spawn naturally.

With the collection of 1 million eggs, they are able to produce enough Chinook salmon for a good improvement in returns. For their small operation, they get great results. The Hatchery is located one mile above Fairy Lake. The fish live in net pens in Fairy Lake for a year before they are released to the sea.

The Port Renfrew Marina is a major supporter, generously providing $6,000-7,000 per year in revenues collected from fishing derbies. As a nonprofit society, the San Juan Enhancement Society gratefully accepts all donations.

Fairy Lake
Fairy Lake, Photo By Bud Logan

The San Juan Enhancement Society has been in operation for over 30 years. We think they deserve respect for their positive contribution to San Juan Salmon Spawn and that other nonprofit salmon enhancement societies could learn from their success.

You can do your part to help too! The Society needs and deserves your support, through volunteering time or providing a donation. So get on board and lend a hand to these guys.

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2 thoughts on “San Juan River”

  1. I’m interested in exploring the San Juan River. I’m a fisher, but not necessarily needing to fish, but would like to hike the river and explore some of the pools and holding spots for fish. Can you give me any tips for hiking and exploring the River? Good entry points? Camping? Thanks!

    1. Put a boat in on the harris creek bridge and drift fish until you reach fairy lake, there are a few areas where you can access the river from along its entire run.

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